Tensions and expectations surrounding homegrown hero Sergio Perez have reached fever pitch in Mexico. Amidst the buzz, Lewis Hamilton, Perez’s friend and former McLaren teammate, and long-time Formula 1 nemesis of Red Bull and Max Verstappen, has raised eyebrows by suggesting that Perez is under “psychological” duress at Red Bull, and it’s affecting his performance.
It’s a high-stakes weekend for Red Bull and Perez, with Max leading the pack and Perez looking to shine on his home turf. Yet, according to Hamilton, it hasn’t been fair for Checo. He hints at a psychological game being played behind closed garage doors.
“I know Red Bull is made up of many members, but there are people who affect him psychologically and do not support him,” Hamilton said, dropping a veiled reference to Dr. Helmut Marko, Red Bull’s 80-year-old Austrian team advisor, known for his blunt assessments and cut-throat approach to the sport.
Hamilton’s comments add a layer of intrigue to a weekend already charged with intensity. The atmosphere in Mexico City is electric, with fans eager to catch a glimpse of their local hero Perez and the indomitable Verstappen. Security is tight, with Verstappen flanked by formidable bodyguards, a testament to the fervor that Formula 1 ignites. Two of Max’s Dutch fans admitted to De Limburger newspaper that they “deliberately are not wearing orange” at the circuit.
Despite the charged atmosphere and Hamilton’s pointed remarks, Christian Horner, Red Bull’s Team Principal, dismisses any talk of animosity between Verstappen and Perez.
“I need to really disappoint you that there is no rivalry between the two drivers,” Horner teased reporters. “Whilst I’m sure the media would love them to be at each other’s throats, unfortunately for you guys, they aren’t.”
Yet, Hamilton, no stranger to the psychological warfare of Formula 1, seems unconvinced.
“If I heard such negative things about myself every weekend, it would be very difficult,” the Mercedes driver expressed, drawing from his own reservoir of experience.
“I haven’t experienced exactly something like what Sergio is going through, but as a driver, I understand the psychological and mental pressures.” In the unrelenting world of Formula 1, battles are fought just as fiercely off the track as they are on it.